After record breaking snowstorms this past winter, we took refuge and reconnected as a family during our winter vacation in Antigua. It's an island that my husband and I visited before having children, and have always wanted to return to this beautiful, quaint island that boasts 365 beaches (yes, you can visit a new one every day of the year). With our child-centric vacation last year to Disney, we wanted to go to a more sophisticated (but still kid-friendly) destination, where we could really take in the natural beauty of sand and water. No slides, no rides, no digital distractions.
At first, I think it was an obstacle for everyone to adjust to a slower pace. WiFi was limited, so our digital devices also had to take a break. I have to admit it, but I think we were all a little agitated at first. It felt like our connections to the outside world was broken. And as much as we were very grateful that we were able to fly to a beautiful resort in the Caribbean while it was cold and wintery back at home, it took a few days to remove ourselves from the hustle and bustle of on-line "life", and go...off-line.
Once we lured everyone away from the digital devices, down at the beach my daughter spent quality time with her Dad wading in the water and building sand volcanos, while I coerced our son to take a private sailing trip with me around the cove at our resort. After he reluctantly agreed, we were taken to the deeper parts of the ocean on our sailboat, as we quietly chit-chatted with our sailor about life in Antigua.
I asked about the weather and if they were lucky enough to enjoy 30+ degree weather all year. He smiled yes and said the previous guests he sailed with actually complained about the heat, but he told them it was nothing compared to the heat in June and July, when it can reach to upwards of 40 degrees!
He couldn't understand why those visitors complained so much. They complained about the heat. They complained about how quiet it was. They complained about the lack of internet access. "We're in PARADISE...how can anyone complain?" he exclaimed. No gadget, game or "all that internet stuff" (his words) can compete with the real-world interaction with such beauty and nature that surrounds us. I felt a little guilty. Although I didn't voice those complaints (out loud), I realized that we too, were not seeing the bigger picture of our "first world problems", and we weren't seizing the opportunity and appreciate what many people in this world would never have the opportunity to do as we were doing...travelling to paradise.
My son was quiet for most of the trip, and part way through our excursion, I could see that he was starting to go "off-line", as he started to really take in his surroundings. It was so peaceful and quiet. The water was glistening in the sun, and I watched my son close his eyes as he enjoyed feeling the cool breeze on his face, as we heard the gentle waves underneath us. As we went further into the depths of the ocean, we saw grouper fish, angel fish and even manta rays swimming in the clear turquoise sea.
After our sailboat ride, my son and I headed back to the beach. His iPod was on the beach lounger, and as he reached for it, I thought he would go back to all those digital distractions that I so painfully wanted all of us to stop, even for just one day, and I momentarily felt disappointed that he wasn't going to take advantage of the beach lying in front him. Instead though, he reached for his iPod and packed it away, and headed towards his sister who was playing in the water. I overheard him tell her about the fish and sea creatures that he saw while quietly floating with her. She asked him if he liked the sailboat, and he said it was amazing.
When I went back into the water to rinse off the sand, my son came up to me and asked me to join them as he held my hand briefly. My daughter then asked me what I thought of the sailboat ride. I smiled at her as I watched them both peacefully enjoy the sand and water.
I told her it was paradise.
I had my fill of Pina Coladas during our stay in Antigua...it was my own little paradise in a glass! I asked the bartender what he used to make the drink...the "virgin" ones for the kids just omitted the alcohol (they called it Pineapple Coconut "crush" for after the crushed ice).
- 2 cups fresh or canned pineapple juice
- 3/4 cup cream of coconut, such as Coco Lopez (or add coconut extract to canned sweetened condensed milk if you don't have cream of coconut on hand)
- 1 cup light rum
- 3 cups crushed ice
- Combine all ingredients except garnish in a blender.
- Pour into tumblers, garnish with pineapple spears, and serve immediately.